The differences between the followers of the lord and those who do not are strongly seen and felt in these two verses.
When it all boils down the major differences are based upon faith, attitude and priorities. The sum of those things leads the followers of Christ into a position that many in the world would consider desperate and untenable. It is not until a person comes to Christ that they see the power and the value in knowing and being known by God.
But Christians are not held in high regard by the rest of the world. In fact they are considered the lowest of all and hated by many. As this verse says,
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Let us consider why this is so
Sheep to the slaughter
Think about a sheep going to the slaughter. They are not considered highly but are bred for the purpose to provide meat to those who are doing the slaughtering. The feelings of the animal are not considered, nor are there any thoughts of the rest of the flock they may have come from and so on.
They are thought of as just something that provides meat. Nothing more.
And yet it is this sheep being led to the slaughter that those who follow Christ are being compared to. Christians are thought of, or rather NOT thought of at all when the people of the world make decisions and do anything in this world.
I have said in other places that Christians are now the most maligned, ignored and hated group of people in the world. Someone said that the Jews may take exception to that as they have been hated and maligned for much longer, but I still maintain that Christians are in a worse place today.
Christians are the ones who are being killed in many places around the world. I noted that of many of the bombings and mass slaughter in places like Nigeria and Benin that something like 75% of these took place against churches.
In the western world we find that it is Christian values that are being constantly undermined and removed from many places. Governments have removed prayer from schools and public places. They are ceasing to allow Christmas carols and nativity scenes from being displayed. Some stores are stopping playing Christmas music at this time of year. And these are all being done because they do not want to offend non-Christians, whether Muslims, Jews or adherents of other faiths including atheists.
There is nothing similar to prevent the worship or religious practices of other faiths to the same extent as the ban on all things Christian. Indeed if someone attempted to stop Jewish worship or daily Islamic prayer practices there would be hell to pay. Let alone if someone were to attempt to stop some of the public displays by non-Christians such as the parades conducted by homosexuals in various cities around the globe.
But Christians are seen as easy targets. They do not show muscle or force and they do not threaten violence when their rights are violated like some others do. Nor should they for that is not what we are called to. We are called to peace.
The bottom line is that in this world Christians don't count. They mean nothing to the people of the world and the world gives them nothing. The world wants to take away the rights and practices and worship of Christians because, quite simply, the world hates Jesus Christ and those who follow Him.
Why do they hate us?
Jesus Christ was hated as the bible shows us in the following scriptures.
22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.' (John 15:22-25).
The world hated Jesus and they had no reason to hate Him. They hated Him so much that they tried to get rid of Him by putting Him to death. What they did not realize was that in doing so they enabled us to receive the salvation promised by God through taking the death of Jesus which sets us free from sin.
And Jesus was an example of a sheep being led to slaughter too. His example is the one we are and must follow for we are to be like Him. As it says in Acts 8:32-33,
32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.”
Justice was denied Jesus, but He did not cry out and complain about it. No. He was silent as He was led to the slaughter for He knew that was to be his lot.
But if we look back at the verses from John 15:22-25 we see the reason why the world hated Jesus so much, and by extension why we Christians today suffer the same hatred from the world.
It says that He was hated because of the things he did and said for He convicted them of their sins. His example and His life and teaching showed them they were sinners and that they were living lives that were a lie. They had ceased to do what is right and to worship God and were seeking to feed their own passions, lusts and desires. They chose to follow the works of the devil rather than the words of God and so they hated Jesus because He showed up their hypocrisy for what it was.
And so too today. Anyone who chooses to follow Jesus Christ WILL be persecuted by the rest of the world for whether they choose to accept it or not, they know they are wrong and they hate anyone who proves them to be wrong.
The knowledge of good and evil was hard wired into man when Adam and Eve chose to reject God and take and eat the fruit of the tree in the garden of Eden. Ever since then man has this knowledge of right and wrong built into his DNA and built into his conscience.
But man also has a choice and depending on the free choices he makes he will do either right or wrong. Those who choose what is right come to God. Those who choose to do wrong do not and they hate those who choose to do right.
Christians do not hate non-Christians because hatred is not part of what God seeks and is not His way. We do not seek to kill those who hate us and do all kinds of evil to and against us. Instead we choose to do good by them, to pray for them and seek their salvation if at all possible.
And that is even more reason why they hate us because they WANT us to retaliate so that they can justify their own violence.
Not of this world
We will not retaliate because it is not our place to do so. There is a day of judgement coming when God will judge the people of the world for all they are doing and have done.
But we are not of this world as the scripture shows in many places. We have come into the kingdom of God and of Jesus Christ when we come to Him and Jesus Himself said to Pilate,
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
In speaking of the many people who died in the faith including the prophets and righteous men and women of old, the writer of Hebrews has this to say.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Like these righteous people of old, we too are exiles on this earth for we do not belong here. Our kingdom and our lives are hid with Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father and we too await His return and the establishing of His kingdom on earth.
Until that time though we are beset with the evil of this world as we walk with Jesus learning how to live lives of righteousness and holiness being prepared for His return and His kingdom.
And so we are considered as sheep being led to the slaughter by the people of this world. They believe they have the right to do this for some reason and that Christians have no rights at all. But they do not realize that there is a day and a time coming when all things will be revealed and the kingdom will be given to the “sheep”, to those who chose to do what is right in the sight of God.
So do not fear them. They think they have power, but they have no power over the people of God. Jesus can and will save His people in their hour of need for He has promised as much, and I know from personal experience He will not fail nor forsake His people. And if we are to be led to the slaughter like sheep, then we will be with Jesus and no longer have to suffer the indignities of this evil world.
Let us then strengthen our faith and hold fast to our confession as Christians knowing that He has a plan and will bring it to completion in due course.
(Photo sourced from free images.com supplied by Matt Guddat)
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